Cruise holidays give you the chance to see practically any destination in the world – but with so much choice available, where do you look first when you’re trying to pick your 2014 cruise? We’ve put together our top 10 destinations for 2014, which might give you some ideas if, like us, you just can’t decide where to travel next…
10. Canada and New England
Beautiful ports and rugged coastline make for some unforgettable sights in Canada and New England, where autumn leaves paint the landscape in reds and yellows, and city lights warm the cold night and reflect in the bay. See the elegance of Boston, and the irresistible countryside of New England; or journey on along Canada’s western coast, for endless pine forests and jagged mountain peaks. A cruise holiday in Canada could also give you the chance to travel north, towards the Arctic Circle – where you could take a dog-sled adventure and see soapstone carvings by Inuit artists; or take a very different kind of safari across frozen tundra, roamed by polar bears.
9. Australia and New Zealand
New Zealand and Australia combine otherworldly landscapes with vastly different cultures – from the thriving arts and music scenes of modern cities like Perth and Sydney, to secluded farmsteads and mesmerising natural monuments. Your excursions here may give you the chance to meet native peoples, with thousands of years’ collective experience in fishing the rich waters of New Zealand, or surviving the harsh, arid lands of the Australian outback. Take sightseeing trips around bustling cities, head out for unforgettable wildlife spotting, or discover communities whose ancient ancestors filled the night with songs and music about the Dreaming, and carved their art into the rocky landscape.
Part of Hawaii’s great appeal as a cruise destination is its sheer variety – where landscapes range from black-sand beaches and forest waterfalls, to desert canyons and grassy plains. Journey to the Big Island and spend some time exploring the volcanic national park; or step ashore on the smaller surrounding isles of Oahu, Maui, Lanai or Kauai, and discover the home of surf and hula – with the chance to meet communities who enjoy a way of life practically unchanged for thousands of years. With a proud ancient culture and thoroughly modern tourism centres, Hawaii’s great appeal lies in the sheer number of ways you can experience it.
7. China and Southeast Asia
China’s rich culture and ancient history needs no introduction – but it’s one thing seeing pictures of packed city streets, vast imperial monuments and eye-popping landscapes, and quite another wandering among them and experiencing them for yourself. Imagine yourself in the main square of Beijing’s vast Forbidden City, or looking out over the hills from the Great Wall. A cruise holiday really opens up Southeast Asia as a whole to travellers, too – giving you the chance to experience soaring modern cityscapes in Singapore, unforgettable cultures of colour and flame in Thailand and Indonesia, and legendary monuments of shining gold and ancient stone in Burma and Vietnam.
6. Panama Canal
The cruise gateway of Panama gives you the chance to see all the wonders of North and South America, on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts – from the fascinating culture and natural beauty of Argentina, to the golden coastline of California and beyond. Panama, too, is an incredible cruise destination worthy of a closer look – here you’ll find both bustling cityscape and deep rainforest, teeming with the kind of exotic wildlife that you don’t necessarily need to venture into the Amazon to see.
The secluded island of Bermuda combines all the things you’d most want to see on a cruise to paradise, with a few things that you may not expect. Palatial white and pastel buildings line the waterfront here, and the bright blue waters that surround it teem with dolphins, turtles, lobster and tropical fish – the perfect place for a diving excursion to complement your time ashore. Take an excursion here and you could be wandering pristine beaches lined with swaying palms, or shopping and eating out in the enchanting colonial capital of Hamilton.
A world away from the year-round sunshine of more well-travelled southerly destinations, Alaska offers a different kind of natural beauty. Take an adventure in the frozen north and you’ll find yourself surrounded by snowy mountains, breathtaking glacial landscapes and vast national parkland. Take a helicopter tour here and you might see grizzly bears, wandering the pebble shores of the rivers, surrounded by hardy pine forest for as far as the eye can see – or iconic bald eagles soaring overhead, dive-fishing in vast lakes, or waiting on the harbours where the fishermen bring in their catch.
3. Scandinavia and the Baltic
The jaw-dropping peaks and placid inlets of the Norwegian fjords make for the kind of backdrop that etches itself into your memory for a lifetime – this part of the world is home to ancient Viking history, secluded, picturesque fishing villages and the Northern Lights, one of the most incredible natural phenomena found on Earth. Head south of Norway into the Baltic Sea, and the city sightseeing really opens up. See Gothenburg’s welcoming cityscape, or the beautiful waterfront buildings of Helsinki far to the east. Discover little-known treasures around Poland, Estonia and Lithuania, or journey to Saint Petersburg, the capital of western Russia’s classical heritage.
2. The Mediterranean
Cruise-goers have long had a love affair with the Mediterranean, and it’s not hard to see why. The coastal southern curve of the Continent offers its visitors a fantastic variety of cultures and world-famous sightseeing, in a relatively small area on the world map – whether you’re after a wine-tasting tour in the rolling vineyards of the south of France, seeing the artistic wealth and military monuments of Spain, or enjoying unbeatable shopping, fine dining and exploration of the ancient world in Italy and Greece.
1. Caribbean and the Bahamas
Taking our number one spot for 2014 cruise destinations has to be the Caribbean – a perennial favourite of cruise-goers for its unbelievable natural beauty, its value for money and the sheer diversity of ship sizes that can sail in the deep and shallow waters here. The port of Miami sees the largest flow of cruise ships in the world, many of which make a beeline for the white beaches and bright, clear seas of the picture-perfect Bahamas, the stunning Virgin Islands, and the vivid waters of Cozumel in the west – just a few popular destinations among the seven thousand islands to be found in this stretch of paradise.